Romantic Vision, Tie Dye and Reality: Thoughts of an Artist's Admin.
originally published June 2016
This week I have a guest blogger - Lauren, who shares her thoughts on working alongside an artist:
I’ve been helping Ruth with admin and PR for about 8 months now. In that time my idea of what an artist is and what they do has changed considerably.
I’ve always thought how romantic it would be to be an artist. I imagined it would involve a lot of swanning around a messy studio wearing a tie dye skirt. I imagined a good deal of time would be spent being inspired by your surroundings and coming up with the next masterpiece. I thought artists were a little zany and out of touch with society. Never had I thought about who would buy these great masterpieces or how anyone would indeed find out about the artists work. Anyway, reality bites.
For talent alone, is not enough to succeed in the art world. And that is where my romantic vision ends. We have all heard of Dali, van Gogh and Damien Hirst. But how many of us could name the artist who lives down the road and is possibly even making a living out of it. There are thousands of painters, sculptors, photographers, performance artists etc out there, but you just haven’t heard of them. For the media just isn’t that interested in reporting about the arts. The media is only really interested in subjects and stories that are going to appeal to the masses. If an artist has managed to reach celebrity status then the media will quite happily tell you about their new exhibition. But if a relatively unknown artist has just won an international art competition, even the local media are unlikely to run a story. And herein lies the problem. It is easier to sell your work and achieve a higher price if you are known. But to become known you need to be able to promote yourself and your work. Most artists have no idea how to sell their work and really struggle with sales and marketing. Business is not something that they teach you about at art college.
Social media has made it easier to make connections and keep your clientele up to date with your news but this still requires an ability to communicate and the time it takes to monitor and update your status on every site. I also think it isn’t necessarily easy for artists to communicate in this way. Having a social media profile requires you to give people an insight into your personal life and views, which doesn’t always sit right with the quite often introverted and private artist.
Every artist also needs a website so the ability to create and update a professional looking website is also useful. Ruth is quite good at this thanks to her previous career in graphics.
The professional artist is also self-employed and needs to be their own accountant. You might also need to fill in in-depth forms for submission to an art gallery, exhibition or art association. You might even need to carry out a health and safety risk assessment for an exhibition you are holding.
So you see there are many hurdles that the aspiring artist has to clear to get to the point where they might hope to make a living from selling their work.
The romantic vision I had was definitely not the whole picture. An artist needs to have a business model and be a successful sales person and still retain the passion to create their work. I’ll have to ask Ruth about the tie dye skirt though!
I personally, like my home to look a bit individual. Art doesn’t always cost the earth and it’s nice to be surrounded by things that have a soul and a story. So I think it’s important that we support and encourage all artists. Life (and my walls) would be very dull if it was all Ikea’s pebbles on canvas.